Monday, August 02, 2010

Making resin jewelry bracelets, Part 6

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(Read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5 of the resin jewelry making process)

So whenever I have drilled holes in my resin bracelet links in the past, I have always done it by hand.  I sit at my bench and use my flex shaft with a size #61 drill bit.

I simply "eyeball" where to drill the hole and hope that I get it in straight.  Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't.  If I don't stay in the right geometrical plane, I either drill out the back, or when I come out on the other side, the two holes are a lot closer or further away than they are on the other side.

I decided to get a drill press to help me make the drilling process easier.  I installed it next to my jewelry bench.

Being next to my jewelry press, I don't have to purchase another flex shaft.  I only have to swing the one I have over to the drill press and set it up in the drill press.  To drill I use the foot pedal of the flex shaft to "give it some gas".  I use the level handle on the right to move the drill bit up and down.

I have a vise bolted on to the base the flex shaft.  It won't come off during the drilling, but I can move it forward or side to side to exactly adjust it.  I have my resin piece in the jaws of the vise.  It is protected by a piece of fleece, which I found out may not still be enough if I "crank down" the jaws too hard.  (I actually imprinted the jaws into a couple of pieces.)

I found I actually had to move the drill bit up and down several times to remove all my resin "crumbs".  The shavings would clog up my hole, which doesn't allow me to string the pieces.  I also found out that if I wasn't careful with how I placed the piece in the jaws, I could still drill incorrectly.  This was due to the fact that the one side is a convex surface, so I have to be absolutely sure the jaw is hitting the piece at the highest point.  Otherwise the angle is off and I still end up drilling out the back.

Overall, I think this will be a help, but I still have more practicing to do.

The next step is to string an polish my resin bracelet!


  1. Fascinating process in how so much is involved in making jewellery. I have a question you might be able to help me with, I would really love your input! When you drill the items do you find the drill bit is long enough to go the whole way through the bead, or do you need to flip it over and drill in from both ends? I ask because I bought a dremel drill and a similar press to yours. I don't think the drill bits are very long which makes me wonder if I've wasted my money on this drill. Any advice would be wonderful. Jeanie, Thanks!

  2. Jeanie,

    That is a great question! I, too, have had the same problem you describe. I use a size 61 drill bit and find that I have to put it into the flex shaft just enough to allow the shaft to close around it and keep it steady. If I insert it in the entire way, I don't have enough drill bit length to drill all the way through the piece. I have had horrible luck trying to go through the other side and "meet in the middle" of the track I've already drilled. It is on my to-do list to find a collet (or something similar) that can attached to the flex shaft handpiece to allow extra length for that drill bit. If I do, I will let you know how it works.

  3. Hi Katherine, I've since bought a long drill bit from a hardware store. It's 11cm long, 8cm would've been enough (not sure if I can cut it to be shorter?). I used it to drill through a small bead, worked a treat. I then used it on a 5cm resin piece but it drilled from the top & right out the back. I had used a mini-muffin tray to create that and the back wasn't evenly flat. I'm still keen to create a necklace using large sized pieces and will try again (maybe using acatate sheet & plastine to give me flat sides).

    I find the bit wants to move to the right as I start to press down. Will have to take that into account when I line it up to drill. I'm really new to this, I guess it's all part of the fun with gaining experience.

  4. Jeanie,

    I had the same problems as well using the drill press. If I didn't have the piece clamped into the vise so it held it square, it drilled out the back. As you have also found out, having the back as flat as possible is extremely important.


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